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Southern Africa Flood Crisis Not Over


The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies says the Southern Africa flood crisis is not over. It says more than 334,000 people in eight countries are still affected by the heavy rains that began in December and have caused rivers to overflow. Affected countries include Mozambique, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia, and parts of Lesotho, Swaziland and Botswana. Lisa Schlein reports from Geneva.

Heavy rains began falling in early December, causing the worst floods seen in Southern Africa for a decade. About 100,000 people in Mozambique, the worst hit country, have been moved to higher ground and are living in difficult conditions.

Spokesman for the International Red Cross Federation, Jean-Luc Martinage, tells VOA many of these people have lost everything - their homes, their cattle, and their livlihoods. He says helping them is a huge task.

"We believe that the crisis is not over because heavy rains since December are sometimes going on," said Martinage. "Water levels continue to rise above normal levels especially along the Zambezi River. This is of particular concern for Mozambique. So, we can expect further flooding and there is a need to evacuate more people. Also, what happens is that Mozambique is now threatened by a cyclone, Cyclone Ivan."

Cyclone Ivan hit the northeastern coast of Madagascar Sunday with winds blowing at 200 kilometers per hour. Early reports indicate about 500 people are affected, homes have been lost, trees uprooted and roads cut off.

Martinage says the number of victims and the extent of the losses is likely to rise. He says Red Cross volunteers in Madagascar are assessing the damage and administering emergency relief to the victims.

He says Cyclone Ivan is strengthening and may be headed toward Mozambique. He notes Mozambique's national meteorological Institute has issued a warning.

"We will closely monitor the situation in the coming hours to see whether Cyclone Ivan is definitely heading to Mozambique," said Martinage. "We know that sometimes it can change. The situation can change. But, we need to take a very close look at the situation in Mozambique within the next 24, 48 hours."

Martinage says the Red Cross has to bring in more supplies - such as tarpaulins, tents, mosquito nets and water purification tablets - for the possibility of another emergency triggered by Cyclone Ivan.

The Red Cross recently launched a revised emergency appeal for more than $10 million for flood victims in Southern Africa.

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